Having grown up in a desert, I was schooled, literally in school as well as at home, in water conservation methods. I cannot believe the amount of water I see people in WV taking away from the filling stations the government has set up. Cases upon cases of bottled water, bag upon bag of ice and then filling any handy containers too. Then the others who come behind the first folks are stuck driving all over trying to find More water! This really isn't necessary. The largest water sucker is sewage and the toilets still work. You don't need to use that much water each day. So this entry will be about how to get along on the least amount of water necessary.
If you're squeamish or don't like thinking about personal habits, stop reading HERE:
Get used to the fact that things are not going to be normal for a while in regards to water use. Clothes won't get clean, dishes won't get washed, neither will people. In other words, after 4 days folks are going to start to stink. Get over it and get on with it.
You supposedly need about a gallon of fluids (NOT coffee or tea) to sustain life. This can include milk, juices, soda pop and sports drinks but check them for caffeine content. If it has caffeine in it, it's off the drinkable list. And do check as things like chocolate milk and Welch's grape soda have caffeine. "Energy drinks" like Monster, 5hr Energy etc. are right out! Caffeine makes you lose water in your body so don't torpedo yourself. Watch your salt intake too. This means that ONE case of bottled water can support 6 people for a day assuming 24 20oz bottles to a case That's a pint over what you need to live and if you really do drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Now, each person gets their own washcloth/hand towel, toothbrush and cup/bowl. This is now your toiletry set. Put toothpaste on the brush, and if you must wet it, do it while holding it over your bowl. When you are done brushing your teeth, use the water in the bowl to rinse. If you don't use toothpaste or aren't afraid of fluoride, you won't have to spit it out, you can just swallow it. And, if you don't want to rinse, you now have your bath water. Wet your washcloth, again, over the bowl or with the contents of the bowl, and, after squeezing out the water, over the bowl, wipe off your face, then hands, then armpits (if you think it's got to be done, though if you ask a teenage boy he might disagree), then front genitalia and then backside. You are now done with a PTA bath. Ask a Vietnam vet what that is. No water for bathing, find a pack of wet wipes. Shaving is right out! Ladies, you are now European and the men are doing beards. Invest in perfume, it worked for the Medieval courts, they averaged 3 baths in a lifetime!
Hand Washing seems to be a major concern though grandma was right when she told you a little dirt wouldn't hurt you. Set up a pan, bucket or plug up a dual sink. Fill one side with soapy water and the other with clear. Don't drain the rinse water after each hand washing, you are not that dirty!
Cleaning and Laundry. Guess what? It's now the housekeepers holiday. No cleaning that isn't absolutely essential and please, define essential as narrowly as possible. Seriously, the doorknobs can wait. As to the laundry, the only thing essential is your underwear, and that only after you've turned them inside out at least once. Then wash by hand with the least dish soap, NO DETERGENT, you feel comfortable with, rinse sparingly and hang dry. You can now use the soapy water for washing your hands. You can treat your shirts the same way, turn them inside out and start a new trend. Edited: Advice from a reader says don't turn your shirt inside out.
Cooking. You can cook many things right in the can they come in on your stove which saves a pot being washed. Cut meat on layers of newspaper outside on a picnic table, your sidewalk or front step, that way you don't have to worry about contaminated counter tops. Or if you boil up a pot of water for pasta, don't just dump it down the drain. Strain your noodles, which don't NEED rinsing because you didn't use oil in the water right?, into another pot to catch the water, put water back into cooking pot. Boil up eggs and reuse that water for drinking. Added bonus there in that the pot is still clean And you get a calcium boost. If you can't find disposable plates and cutlery, wash your dinner ware in the cooking water. Cook for more than one meal at a time so as to reduce the number of cooking pots etc. you have to clean. Now is also the time to take advantage of the disgusting array of pre-packaged, pre-cooked, pre-pepared foods available in our supermarkets. Yes, they aren't good for you, but it's an emergency and it's only for a little while. Or, learn to eat things raw. If you peel a fruit or vegetable, you don't have to wash it. Think of it as avoiding the water on a Mexican holiday.
Pets: Make sure they have access to clean potable water all day every day.
Houseplants: Tough, they are on their own.
Do this in your yard, if you have one, and you won't have to make so many trips for water: http://en.wikipedia.org/...
If you have clean gutters, put buckets under the spouts to catch gray water. Buckets in the yard can catch rainwater, but aren't really efficient.
And, when this is all over, THINK about water the next time you turn on the tap, call your local, state and federal representatives and ask them to put the Clean Water Act back into full effect for EVERYONE, even corporations. Good luck and if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask them as this is bare bones.